Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is effective therapy for end-stage liver disease but immunosuppression with calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) leads to significant nephrotoxicity, resulting in either a reduction of dosage to below the therapeutic level or omission of the drug altogether. Basiliximab (Bx) is a human/mouse chimeric monoclonal antibody that inhibits binding of interleukin-2 (IL-2) to IL-2 receptors and thus prevents proliferation of T cells, which is the main step in the development of acute cellular rejection. The aim of this study was to identify the role of Bx in the prevention of acute cellular rejection and in the reduction of nephrotoxicity in children post-liver transplantation. We evaluated three children (19 months, 22 months, and 11 yr of age; one male, two female) who were treated with Bx post-OLT on compassionate grounds. The indications were: Nephrotoxicity in two children, requiring re-transplantation for hepatic artery thrombosis and recurrent giant cell hepatitis, respectively; and nephrotoxicity secondary to chemotherapy for hepatoblastoma in the third child. All patients received 10 mg of Bx, at OLT and on Day 4. Tacrolimus (0.15 mg/kg/day) was started at 48 h(n = 2) and cyclosporin (5 mg/kg/day) at 2 weeks (n = 1). Trough levels of tacrolimus were maintained at 5-8 ng/mL and trough levels of cyclosporin at 100-150 mg/L for the first 3 months. All patients received methylprednisolone (2 mg/kg) with azathioprine (1.5 mg/kg) (n = 2) and/or mycophenolate mofetil (20 mg/kg) (n = 1). The glomerular filtration rate (cGFR) was calculated using the Schwartz formula before and 10 weeks after transplant. Bx was found to be easy to administer and no major side-effects were reported. One child had two episodes of mild acute rejection at 5 and 9 weeks post-OLT and one developed chronic rejection requiring re-transplantation at 9 weeks post-OLT. One child did not develop rejection. The mean pretransplant cGFR was 58.1 (54.6-64.1) mL/min/m2. Within 10 weeks of transplantation, the cGFR had improved by 69% to a mean of 116 (88-157.6) mL/min/m2. To conclude, Bx was well tolerated in all children and had a renal sparing effect. It was effective in preventing early acute rejection, but the combination of Bx and low-dose CNI drugs did not prevent late acute or chronic rejection. Further studies to evaluate the appropriate levels of CNI immunosuppression with Bx are required.
- Acute cellular rejection
- CNI drugs
- Paediatric liver transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health